Date of Award

Spring 1-29-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Thane Erickson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Marcia Webb, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Margaret Brown, Ph.D.


Forgiveness is thought to contribute to subjective well-being (SWB), which has been associated with a variety of beneficial physical and mental health outcomes. However, it remains unknown whether the relationship between forgiveness and SWB may vary depending on types of forgiveness, and may be strongest for those who endorse religiosity/spirituality as important. The current study tested whether forgiveness of oneself, others, and situations predicted SWB, as well as whether these links were moderated by implicit religiousness/spirituality (R/S). A cross-sectional on-line survey was provided to interested students attending a small private liberal arts college. Participants (N = 134) were largely women (83%) and Caucasian (75%), with a mean age of 20.53 (SD = 1.59). Participants completed validated measures of forgiveness, SWB (i.e., satisfaction with life, positive and negative affect), and R/S, including an implicit association test of R/S. Multiple regression results indicated significant main effects for total forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and situational forgiveness on SWB constructs. Other-forgiveness demonstrated significant main effects only with positive affect. In addition, there were significant interactions of forgiveness and R/S for two of the three components of SWB (i.e., negative affect and satisfaction with life): negative affect with total forgiveness (β = -.24, p = .002), self-forgiveness (β = -.2, p = .012), and situational forgiveness (β = -.29, p < .001) as well as satisfaction with life and total forgiveness (β = .17, p = .037). Analysis of simple slopes indicated the relationship between forgiveness and SWB facets was greater for high-forgiveness, as hypothesized. Results suggest that forgiveness may influence SWB, but this relationship differs by type of forgiveness and is moderated by implicit R/S. Clinical implications derived from results include encouraging the development of forgiveness interventions that are sensitive to religion and spirituality issues for individuals seeking treatment for negative affect and maladaptive cognitions. The study also provides support for the use of the IAT to measure R/S, which may further develop the literature on R/S with regard to implicit attitudes.

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